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Foreshore legislation delayed until at least May

15 March 2004

The Government's controversial seabed and foreshore legislation appears unlikely to surface before May.

The Government released its proposal to put the foreshore and seabed into public domain in December and said previously it hoped to have legislation introduced to Parliament in March.

Then it pushed the legislation back to late March or early April and now it is pushing it back further.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said recently the final details of the proposal were being worked on but the issue has proved a thorny one for the Government.

Its plans for a policy to stop courts granting title to the foreshore and seabed have been dogged by controversy and there have been critics of it within the Labour Party.

Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia, who said previously she would abstain from voting on the legislation, said at the weekend she had considered resigning from Labour over the issue.

She has ruled out that for now but has also warned she might have to reconsider that position "depending on how the proposals end up".

Miss Clark told reporters today the seabed and foreshore legislation was not likely to be introduced this month or next, but would possibly be ready in May.

"I'm not expecting introduction of legislation this month, no," she told reporters at her post-Cabinet press conference.

There was only a week in which the House was sitting during April, ahead of the Easter recess "so that could be a bit tight".

Asked whether it could appear in May, Miss Clark said: "Well, as I said last week we live in hope."

Miss Clark put the delays down to thorough discussion and consultation.

National Maori Affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee said the postponement of the legislation was a "cynical delaying tactic by Helen Clark to try to kill the issue".


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